Kyle Nakasaka ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Since the initial release of Outlast, a relatively unheard of survival horror game coming out of the publisher Red Barrels, it has managed to achieve enough popularity to warrant a DLC, ports of the game to both Xbox One and PS4, and a very promising demo for its upcoming sequel, Outlast 2. Now, some of you may be wondering what sets the Outlast franchise apart from the growing slosh of jump scare garbage? A lot of things, as it turns out.
Let’s talk about the base game of Outlast. Outlast, when it came out, made a very significant splash, first being covered by horror game-based YouTubers. After letting those videos gestate on the internet for some time, the game managed to find its way into the game libraries of thousands upon thousands of gamers. Outlast ended up standing tall among the rubble that is the horror genre for a number of reasons, the most prominent being their sources of scares. In essence, Outlast does not purely rely on jump scares to strike fear into its players; Outlast manages to scare people with its gruesome depictions of a ruined mental asylum, the eerie sound design, and the chase scenes that leave you scrambling to find a hiding space, as well as the well placed jump scares. Despite its use of jump scares, Outlast restrains itself in its jump scares and places them methodically and sometimes in plain sight to unsettle the unwary players. Through its chase scenes, jump scares, eerie sounds, and well done assets, Outlast is able to be a stand out horror game that will sure to be a classic and a must buy for some time to come.
Outlast soon followed up the base game with a DLC entitled Whistleblower which explores the origins of a legend within the game known as the Walrider. The DLC mirrors the main title in both gameplay and aesthetic, but takes a much more plot driven stance when it comes to the narrative. The DLC acts as a prequel, but slowly ends up lining up with the timeline of the base game and tells a more thorough story as a result. Despite being so narratively driven, however, the game still maintains the same level of horror and fear as the original game. With the addition of the prominence of narrative to the original horror aspects to the game, the DLC feels like an improvement technically, though it is significantly shorter than the base game. Once the community got their hands on this package of well done horror, the likes of which haven’t seen since Amnesia, the community began clamoring for more.
Cue Outlast 2, the sequel that the horror community had been waiting for. Outlast 2, however, does not pick up the story of Miles, our faithful reporter protagonist from the first game. Instead, we play as Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist working with his wife Lynn to look into the murder of a pregnant woman. So far we only have a demo, but boy, is it a heck of a demo. No spoilers, but if you’re expecting another asylum, you’ll be sorely mistaken. From what I ended up playing of it, I am very excited for what is to come. The controls feel tighter, the atmosphere feels tense and I am ready to be afraid of playing the game once I pick it up.
Outlast 2 promises to improve on the first game by giving us better graphics, tighter controls, a brand new fresh setting and design, and plenty more. From what I see happening with Outlast 2, it looks like the franchise is heading in a good direction, making individual and unique stories rather than continuing with the same setting and characters for an indefinite amount of time. I think that this will end up keeping the series fresh and intriguing, as well as consumable at an individual level. With games like Metal Gear Solid and other heavily plot driven games, it seems harder and harder for people to just pick it up and get going, but with Outlast’s plan for their games, it would be very possible for a player to pick up Outlast 2 without having ever touched the first game. Red Barrels also seems to have managed to swerve around being succumbed by the big game titans that are ruining great indie games. Outlast seems like it’s going to stick to its guns and forge its own path rather than fall into line, and I could not be happier with that decision. Overall, I’m very optimistic when it comes to the future of the franchise, and I look forward to Outlast 2 and any other games they have in store for us.